- Released Internationally on 08/08/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 04/11/08 as part of the International Film Festival
In a nutshell
Based on Pulitzer-prize-winning American author Philip Roth’s book The Dying Animal, this is the tragic tale of a respected and cultured professor whose life begins to unravel when he embarks on an erotic relationship with a younger student of his.
Why we’re hyped
Serious dramas like this can be mesmerizing when the writing is good and the performances are top-notch, and with the array of talent in store here, this seems like a safe bet for a moving night out.
Who’s in it?
Ben Kingsley plays the professor, and Penélope Cruz proves to be his downfall as the reserved but beautiful student. Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard add to the stellar cast, and the film is weaved together by Spanish director Isabel Coixet.
A touch of class
Every so often a film comes along in which the mood, the performances and the narrative gel together so effortlessly that the result is a class act from the word go. Within minutes of starting, this film’s class was evident. Ben Kingsley’s delivery of the voiceover immediately draws us into his tragic tale, and the acting allows complex characters to be established and interesting within minutes of appearing on screen. The voiceover returns at key points in the film, and allows some of the powerful lines from Roth’s novel to be brought directly to the screen.
Much like the narration, the musical score is used sparingly but to great effect – this is a film that doesn’t require any tricks or bombast to hold our attention, because the story is the star. Much of the back-story and tangents from the novel have been omitted, so as not to divert us from the story of this troubled affair, and the thoughts it leaves in its wake.
"When you make love to a woman, you get revenge for all the things that defeated you in life."
The elderly, educated main character, cultural critic David Kepesh, has much to teach us about ageing, love, jealousy, independence and fatherhood, and there is a lot for us to ponder once we leave the theatre. But rather than being preachy, the film’s memorable lines are often spoken during squash matches between friends, or thought aloud as seduction is underway.
The script calls for Cruz’s character to be a true ‘work of art’, and she manages with flying colours. Always prim and reserved, she helps us truly see what is driving Kingsley’s character to jealous obsession. She may be impressed by her teacher’s life of culture, but this is no awe-struck teenager, but rather yet another powerful woman for Cruz to add to her film résumé.
Dennis Hopper is delightful as the sage but fun-loving old friend whom Kepesh frequently turns to for advice, Patricia Clarkson has a brief but memorable role as the other woman in the Kepesh’s life, and Peter Sarsgaard underlines some of Kepesh’s failures as the estranged son. The plot rarely sags, and the ending doesn’t disappoint. A quiet, reserved gem of a movie.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/elegy/ (High-res QuickTime)